Committees recommend funding for surface transportation and congestion mitigation projects

MARC is in the process of programming several years of transportation and air quality projects funded by the Surface Transportation and Congestion Mitigation Air Quality federal programs. Committees have made final recommendations for approximately $34 million in Kansas projects and $49 million in Missouri projects.

Before initiating the call for projects for these funds, programming committees reviewed and updated their project-evaluation methodology to reflect the priorities of Transportation Outlook 2040, the region’s long-range transportation plan. Each application included information about how the project would support the long-range plan’s policy goals. MARC used this to develop initial scores, which also included project readiness and relationship to local goals and objectives. Each committee considered these scores as the basis for its funding recommendations, along with factors such as geographic equity and balance among project types.

The Surface Transportation projects will enhance roads, rehabilitate bridges, support livable communities, enhance bicycle and pedestrian options, and improve safety and operations in fiscal years 2015–2016. Local jurisdictions submitted 68 applications requesting a total of $163 million. The Kansas STP/Bridge Priorities Committee recommends funding 16 projects totaling $26.6 million, and the Missouri STP/Bridge Committee recommends funding 14 projects totaling $44.6 million.

The Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program will fund projects that help reduce congestion and improve air quality by decreasing vehicle emissions in fiscal years 2013–2014. Local jurisdictions submitted 43 applications requesting a total of $21 million. The CMAQ Committee recommends funding 17 Kansas projects totaling $7.1 million, and 12 Missouri projects totaling $4 million.

All the recommended projects are included in the fourth quarter amendment to the 2012–2016 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), which budgets major surface transportation investments in the region over the next five years.

Congress passed a new, 27-month federal surface transportation bill in July — called MAP-21 — while MARC’s calls for projects were underway. The programming committees will need to review their roles and responsibilities for 2013 in response to changes in the new bill.

KDOT announces CMAQ funding reduction

Due to an overall reduction in federal transportation funds to Kansas under the new MAP-21 bill, the Kansas Department of Transportation recently decided to reduce its voluntary allocation of Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds by 25 percent starting in federal fiscal year 2013. This amounts to a loss of approximately $741,000 for the Kansas City area.

MARC staff met with KDOT staff on Oct. 1 to discuss the rationale, timing and impact of this decision. MARC expressed concern about the potential impact of these cuts on efforts to address regional air quality in light of near‐certain redesignation as a nonattainment area for ozone pollution, and considering recent efforts to program 2013 and 2014 CMAQ funds.

The CMAQ Committee, Air Quality Forum and Total Transportation Policy Committee will be asked to revisit this issue.

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